Two weeks before the Christmas of 1995, the sky turned red in Lowell, Massachusetts. A devastating fire was consuming the Malden Mills textile factory. By morning, all that remained was ashes. Aaron Feuerstein, the factory’s owner, was in his early seventies. He could have collected the large sum of insurance money and retired in leisure. Instead, he decided to rebuild the factory and even pledged to pay his employees for the next thirty days. At the end of that thirty days, he renewed his pledge. He continued paying his employees until the factory was rebuilt, ninety days later. In the end, he paid out 25 million dollars and generously supported the families of the nine employees that were injured. At an award ceremony for business ethics, Feuerstein explained his motivation for making such a shocking and counter-cultural decision. He quoted Jeremiah 9:23-24, “Let the rich man not praise himself, but rather, by demonstrating the will of God, show kindness, justice, and righteousness in his actions.”
The word of God had taken deep roots in Feuerstein’s being. When a critical decision needed to be made, it was the word that guided him. For Joshua and his generation, the word of God would be key to their success in engaging God’s grander mission, “Be strong and courageous by being careful to do all the law that Moses my servant commanded you… (Joshua 1:7).”
Roughly speaking, Joshua’s generation was the first to have what we might call a first installment of the Bible. The Lord had given to Moses what now make up the first five books of the Bible (cp. Exodus 17:14; Numbers 33:2; Deuteronomy 31:9-10). Joshua was told to do three things with this word. He was told not to let it depart from his mouth. This meant that Joshua was to speak it often. He was told to meditate on it day and night. The Hebrew verb here means “a barely audible murmur.” It was an activity that involved the heart, mind, and soul. So rooted in the Lord’s word was Joshua to be, this word was to overflow from his soul in nearly silent murmurs, similar to a song that has gotten stuck in your head. Lastly, Joshua was told repeatedly to do what this word instructed. (Joshua 1:8).
The success and the prosperity of the mission given to Joshua and his generation depended on keeping this Book of the Law. For us to engage in and prosper God’s mission, we too need to follow his word.